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Publication numberUS6705078 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/182,014
PCT numberPCT/EP2001/000538
Publication dateMar 16, 2004
Filing dateJan 18, 2001
Priority dateJan 26, 2000
Fee statusPaid
Also published asDE10003219A1, EP1254305A2, EP1254305B1, US20030037540, WO2001055564A2, WO2001055564A3
Publication number10182014, 182014, PCT/2001/538, PCT/EP/1/000538, PCT/EP/1/00538, PCT/EP/2001/000538, PCT/EP/2001/00538, PCT/EP1/000538, PCT/EP1/00538, PCT/EP1000538, PCT/EP100538, PCT/EP2001/000538, PCT/EP2001/00538, PCT/EP2001000538, PCT/EP200100538, US 6705078 B2, US 6705078B2, US-B2-6705078, US6705078 B2, US6705078B2
InventorsHermann Hahn, Sören Hinze
Original AssigneeVolkswagen Aktiengesellschaft
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and device for controlling a NOx storage catalyst that is arranged in an exhaust gas channel of a combustion engine
US 6705078 B2
Abstract
The invention relates to a method for controlling a NOx storage catalyst by means of a NOx-sensitive measuring device, especially a NOx sensor, that is arranged downstream in relation to the NOx storage catalyst which is arranged in an exhaust gas channel of a combustion engine. According to the invention, a reference time (t0) is determined by means of a signal path of the NOx-sensitive measuring device (18) after the combustion engine (10) has been switched into a lean operating mode. Said reference time is used as the timely starting point for controlling processes being related to the NOx storage catalyst (16). The invention also relates to a device for carrying out the method. According to said device, means are provided by means of which the following procedure steps can be carried out: determining a reference time (t0) by means of a signal path (SV) of the NOx-sensitive measuring device (18) after regeneration of the NOx storage catalyst (16) and using the reference time (t0) as the timely starting point for controlling processes of the NOx storage catalyst (16).
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Claims(19)
What is claimed is:
1. Method for controlling a NOx storage catalyst disposed in an exhaust gas channel of an internal combustion engine with a NOx-sensitive measuring device, which is arranged downstream of the NOx storage catalyst, wherein an analysis is performed of a signal form (SV) of the NOx sensitive measuring device after the internal combustion engine has been switched over into a lean operating mode with respect to at least one preset criterion, chosen from the group consisting of (A) a transition of a decreasing signal form (SV) to a non-negative slope of the signal form (SV) and (B) a drop of the signal below a predetermined threshold value, and wherein a time when at least one of the preset criteria is satisfied, is defined as a reference time (t0) for controlling one or both of the NOx regeneration and desulphurization processes of the NOx storage catalyst.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein an analysis of the signal form (SV) of the measuring device is started either (1) when the internal combustion engine is switched to a lean operating mode or (2) after a short delay.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the preset criteria is a simultaneous drop of the signal below a predetermined threshold value and simultaneously a transition of decreasing signed form (SV) non-negative slope of the signal form (SV) of the measuring device.
4. The method according to claim 1, wherein the preset criterion (B) is a sustained signal level below a predetermined threshold value for a preset minimum time interval from the start of the analysis of the signal form.
5. The method according to claim 1, wherein the preset criterion is (B) a sustained signal level below a predetermined threshold value for a predetermined minimum duration.
6. The method according to claim 1, wherein if a predetermined maximum time interval or a predetermined exhaust gas throughput after the start of the analysis of the signal form (SV) has passed without a successful determination of the reference time (t0), then the reference time (t0) is chosen from the group consisting of time at which the analysis ends, another predetermined time exhaust gas throughput.
7. The method according to claim 1, wherein if a predetermined maximum time interval or a predetermined exhaust gas throughput after the start of the analysis of the signal form (SV) has passed without a successful determination of the reference time (t0), then a renewed regeneration of the NOx storage catalyst is initiated.
8. The method according to claim 6, wherein if the analysis of the signal form was unsuccessful, then the obtained information is used for one or both of (i) additional control processes of the internal combustion engine and (ii) of the NOx storage catalyst.
9. The method according to claim 1, wherein the signal form (SV) is smoothed before being analyzed.
10. The method according to claim 1, wherein immediately after the reference time (t0) has been determined, the analysis of the signal form (SV) is terminated and an evaluation of the signal of the measuring device is released for controlling the NOx storage catalyst.
11. The method according to claim 1, wherein the reference time (t0) is used as a calculation start time for a beginning of NOx storage of the NOx storage catalyst for controlling one or both of (i) a NOx regeneration and (ii) a desulphurization of the NOx storage catalyst.
12. The method according to claim 1, wherein at the reference time (t0), an activity commences, the activity being chosen as one or more from the group consisting of (i) an integration of a NOx mass passing through the NOx storage catalyst and (ii) a calculation of the NOx mass stored in the NOx storage catalyst.
13. The method according to claim 1, wherein the signal value at the reference time (t0) is used as an offset for calibrating the measuring device.
14. The method according to claim 1, wherein the reference time (t0) is determined after each NOx regeneration and desulphurization.
15. The method according to claim 1, wherein the reference time (t0) is valid until an event occurs, the event being chosen from the group consisting of (i) switching over of the internal combustion engine again into a lean operating mode and (ii) lean exhaust gases are present at the location of the measuring device.
16. The method according to claim 1, wherein the reference time (t0) is valid until the internal combustion engine undergoes an event chosen from the group consisting of (i) switching over into a stoichiometric operating mode, (ii) a rich operating mode, (iii) stoichiometric gases being present at the location of the measuring device, (iv) rich exhaust gases being present at the location of the measuring device.
17. Device for determining a NOx concentration of an exhaust gas flow of an internal combustion engine with a NOx-sensitive measuring device disposed in an exhaust gas channel downstream of a NOx storage catalyst, comprising means for carrying out the method steps for analyzing with respect to at least one preset criterion a signal form (SV) of the NOx-sensitive measuring device after the internal combustion engine has been switched into a lean operating mode, wherein the preset criteria is chosen as at least one of the group consisting of (A) a transition of a decreasing signal form (SV) to a non-negative slope of the signal form (SV), and (B) a drop of the signal below a predetermined threshold value, as well as determining a time when at least one of the preset criteria is satisfied, as a reference time (t0) for controlling one or both of (a) the NOx regeneration and (b) desulphurization processes of the NOx storage catalyst.
18. The device according to claim 17, wherein the means comprise a control unit which stores in digital form a procedure for controlling the method steps for controlling a NOx storage catalyst.
19. The device according to claim 18, wherein the control unit is integrated in a motor controller.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a method and a device for controlling a NOx storage catalyst which is arranged in an exhaust gas channel of an internal combustion engine by means of a NOx-sensitive measuring device, a particular a NOx sensor, that is arranged downstream of the NOx storage catalyst.

It is known to place NOx storage catalysts in an exhaust channel of internal combustion engines for post-processing exhaust gases of temporarily lean-running internal combustion engines. These NOx storage catalysts store nitrogen oxides present in the exhaust gas during lean operating phases of the internal combustion engine. The NOx storage catalyst is periodically subjected to a NOx regeneration to restore the initial NOx storage capacity, for which purpose the catalyst is exposed to a rich exhaust gas atmosphere. Desorbed NOx is reduced by the reducing exhaust gas components carbon monoxide CO and non-burned hydrocarbons HC to nitrogen N2. It is also in necessary to perform after extended time intervals a desulphurization of the NOx storage catalyst to remove unwanted sulfate deposits. Desulphurization is typically also performed by exposing the catalyst to a rich exhaust gas while the temperature is adjusted to above 600° C.

It is also known to control NOx storage catalysts, in particular the NOx regeneration and desulphurization of these catalysts, with NOx sensors located downstream of the NOx storage catalyst. NOx breakthrough can be detected and a NOx regeneration can be initiated by measuring the NOx concentration after the catalyst.

EP 0 916 941 A describes a method for detecting a NOx storage activity of a NOx storage catalyst with a downstream NOx sensor. After the internal combustion engine is switched into a lean mode, a signal that depends on the NOx concentration is measured and its curve form dependence analyzed to determine a reference time for monitoring the storage activity. As a criterion for determining the reference time an absolute minimum of the signal form within a predetermined wait time after switch-over of the internal combustion engine is used. In particular, the height of the signal of the NOx sensor is used to correct the offset of the sensor. WO 00/76636 describes a method for calibrating a NOx sensor, wherein likewise a minimum in the signal form after switch-over of the internal combustion engine into a lean mode is used for a correction of the offset.

The NOx storage catalyst can be controlled even more precisely if the NOx regeneration and desulphurization time intervals are not matched to an actual NOx concentration after the NOx storage catalyst, but to a quantity of NOx that had passed through the NOx storage catalyst during a lean phase of the internal combustion engine, wherein the NOx quantity can be determined by integrating the measured NOx concentration. This concept has the disadvantage that the time at which NOx is actually stored again after a regeneration phase, is unknown. The time at which the internal combustion engine is switched into the lean mode typically forms the basis for starting the NOx storage phase. This point in time, however, represents only a coarse approximation of the actual start of the storage process. For example, a time delay is ignored which represents the distance traveled by the exhaust gas between the internal combustion engine and the NOx storage catalyst. At the start of the lean phase, the NOx storage catalyst can also be in a temperature range which prevents a reliable storage of nitrous oxides. Another disadvantage is the typical response time associated with modern NOx sensors, which can cause a delay in the signal change after the NOx concentration in the vicinity of the sensor has changed. As a result, integration of the NOx mass flow typically starts too early, which entails a premature start of the regeneration, which can then adversely affect the fuel consumption. Many control processes of the NOx storage catalyst suffer from the problem that the temporal relationship between an operating point of the internal combustion engine and the behavior of the catalyst is not known.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the invention to propose a method and a device for controlling a NOx storage catalyst of the aforedescribed type, which takes into account a temporal correlation between an operating state of the internal combustion engine and the measurement from a NOx sensor located after the NOx storage catalyst.

The object is solved by the characterizing features of the method of claim 1 and the device of claim 17. According to the method of the invention, it is proposed to perform an analysis of a signal form of the NOx sensitive measuring device after the internal combustion engine is switched into a lean operating mode, for example, after regeneration of the NOx storage catalyst, with respect to at least one preset criterion. The time at which at least one of the preset criteria is satisfied, is defined as a reference time for controlling NOx regeneration and/or desulphurization processes of the NOx storage catalyst.

According to the invention, at least one of the preset criteria is a transition of a decreasing signal form to a curve with a slope of approximately zero or a positive slope of the signal form and/or a drop of the signal below a predetermined threshold value. A threshold value can be predetermined for the slope. The first criterion corresponds essentially to the presence of a minimum in the signal form of the measuring device, which can, of course, also be determined by other methods for determining a minimum, for example, by a comparison of the magnitude of sequentially measured signal values. The criteria should be preset in such a way that under standard conditions of catalyst and measuring device a reference time can always be determined, so that the control of the NOx storage catalyst can be enabled.

According to an advantageous embodiment, the signal form of the measuring device for determining the reference time is analyzed immediately at the time when the internal combustion engine is switched into a lean operating mode or only after a short delay. Starting the analysis of the signal form can also require that the NOx storage catalyst is in a temperature range that is suitable for storing NOx.

According to a particularly advantageous embodiment, the criterion to be satisfied can include a simultaneous drop of the signal below a predetermined threshold value instead of or in addition to a slope of approximately zero or a positive slope of the signal form.

Advantageously, one of the preset criteria may be that the signal level remains below a predetermined threshold value for a predetermined minimum time interval before the signal form is analyzed. This criterion can take into account signal forms which, after a regeneration of the NOx storage catalyst, have already a relative constant or low level when the internal combustion engine is switched into a lean operating mode, with the level subsequently slowly increasing.

Another criterion can be preset, whereby the measured signal drops below a predetermined threshold value during the analysis. Optionally, this may be required for a certain minimum time duration.

Regardless which of the criteria is/are selected, it can be particularly advantageous with a low signal-to-noise ratio to smooth the signal form before the analysis. This can be done, for example, by averaging adjacent signal values or by other known methods.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a maximum time interval can be defined after the start of the analysis of signal form, wherein if a reference time could not be successfully established based on the aforedescribed criteria after the maximum time interval, then the end time of the time interval is used as the reference time. According to an alternative embodiment, if the time interval has passed unsuccessfully, a renewed regeneration of the NOx storage catalyst is started, while the reference time is subsequently defined anew. It can also be advantageous to use the information about a prior unsuccessful search for a reference time for additional control processes of the internal combustion engine or the NOx storage catalyst. For example, such information can be used in a diagnostic test to describe the condition of the catalyst or to enable a lean control of the internal combustion engine.

Preferably, the analysis of the signal form can terminated immediately after the reference time has been determined, and the signal of the measuring device can be evaluated and released for controlling the NOx storage catalyst.

According to a preferred embodiment, the reference time is used as a start time for beginning the NOx storage in the NOx storage catalyst for controlling NOx regeneration and/or desulphurization of the NOx storage catalyst. Advantageously, approximately at the reference time, integration of the NOx mass flow through the NOx storage catalyst is started and/or the quantity of NOx stored in the NOx storage catalyst is calculated.

Under certain circumstances, the signal form at the reference time may be used as an offset for calibrating the measuring device. However, this requires relatively strict criteria for determining the reference time. In particular, the signal form of the measuring device should have an absolute minimum at the reference time.

For a precise and operation-friendly control of the NOx storage catalyst, the reference time is advantageously determined after each NOx regeneration and desulphurization of the NOx storage catalyst.

According to a preferred embodiment of the method, the reference time for controlling the NOx storage catalyst should be valid until the internal combustion engine is switched again into a lean operating mode or until lean exhaust gases are detected at the location of the measuring device. In this case, a reference time determined in a lean phase is therefore valid until a new search for a reference time is started in a subsequent lean phase. Alternatively, the reference time can also be valid until the internal combustion engine is switched over into a stoichiometric or rich operating mode and/or until the presence of a stoichiometric or rich exhaust gas is detected at the location of the measuring device.

A device is also provided which includes means for performing the process steps for analyzing a signal form of the NOx -sensitive measuring device after the internal combustion engine has been switched into a lean operating mode with respect to at least one preset criterion, wherein at least one of the preset criteria is a transition of a decreasing signal form to a slope of approximately zero or a positive slope of the signal form and/or a drop of the signal below a predetermined threshold value, as well as determining a time when at least one of the preset criteria is satisfied, as a reference time for controlling the NOx regeneration and/or desulphurization processes of the NOx storage catalyst.

In a preferred embodiment, these means include a control unit that stores a procedure for controlling in digital form the process steps that control a NOx storage catalyst. This control unit can be integrated in an engine controller.

Additional advantageous embodiments of the invention are recited as features in the remaining dependent claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A particular embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the appended drawings. The drawings show in:

FIG. 1 an arrangement of an exhaust channel of an internal combustion engine, and

FIG. 2 a signal form of a NOx sensor after a regeneration of a NOx storage catalyst.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The arrangement of an internal combustion engine 10 shown schematically in FIG. 1 includes an exhaust channel 12 with an optional pre-catalyst 14 in the exhaust path 12 and a NOx storage catalyst 16. A NOx sensor 18 is arranged in the exhaust channel 12 downstream of the NOx storage catalyst 16. The NOx sensor 18 transmits a measurement signal, typically a voltage, which depends on the NOx concentration after the NOx storage catalyst 16 and/or on a NOx fraction in an exhaust gas, to a engine controller 20 with an integrated control unit 22. Based on a stored characteristic curve of the NOx sensor 18, the control unit 22 determines the NOx concentration that corresponds to the sensor signal Depending on the determined NOx concentration, the motor controller 20 controls the internal combustion engine 10, for example, by adjusting the supplied air-fuel mixture. In particular, the motor controller 20 controls switching of the internal combustion engine 10 between a lean (λ>1) and a stoichiometric or rich operating mode (λ≦1), to thereby control NOx regeneration of the NOx storage catalyst 16. A very precise control of the regeneration cycles can be achieved by starting a rich regeneration phase not based on an actual NOx concentration after the NOx storage catalyst, but based a total quantity of NOx that passed through the NOx storage catalyst 16 during a lean phase. This can be calculated by integrating the signal of the NOx sensor 18 over the duration of the lean phase. However, no method has so far been reported wherein the time of storing nitrogen oxides in the NOx storage catalyst 16 actually begins after the internal combustion engine 10 is switched into the lean mode, when integration of the NOx sensor 18 should reasonably begin.

FIG. 1 shows a simplified temporal signal form of an output signal OUT of a NOx sensor 18 during a switch from a rich regeneration mode R into a lean operating mode M of the internal combustion engine 10. During the NOx regeneration R, the sensor signal OUT remains at a relatively high level (region 30). This can be attributed, on one hand, to an incomplete reduction of the desorbed nitrogen oxides NOx and, on the other hand, to a generation of ammonia NH3 during the regeneration R, to which the NOx sensor 18 also responds. The sensor signal OUT initially remains at this high level for a short time after the internal combustion engine 10 is switched into the lean mode M at a time ts. This is caused by a dead space located between the internal combustion engine 10 and a location of the NOx sensor 18, through which the exhaust gas has to pass. In addition, the temperature of the NOx storage catalyst 16 during the switching operation at time ts is frequently still too high to ensure an optimum NOx absorption activity. Finally, the NOx sensor 18 is slow-acting which can cause the sensor 18 to supply a high signal even when lean exhaust gas with little NOx content is already present at the sensor location. After this delay, the signal form SV has a steep downward slope (region 32) and reaches at a time t0 a minimum min, before slowly increasing again (region 34). This increase is caused by increased loading of the NOx storage catalyst 16 and a decreasing NOx storage activity associated therewith. If the integration of the sensor signal OUT has already started when the internal combustion engine 10 is switched over at the time ts into the lean mode for determining a total NOx. Breakthrough, then the aforedescribed delay phase can introduce a relatively large error. With the method of the invention as well as with the device, the reference time t0 is determined based on the signal form SV of the NOx sensor 18, which is then used as a start time for control processes related to the NOx storage catalyst 16. In practice, this reference time t0 should be set equal to the time when NOx storage in the NOx storage catalyst 16 begins after a regeneration R.

The reference time t0 is determined by starting the analysis of the signal form SV when the internal combustion engine 10 is switched over into the lean operating mode M or when a lean exhaust gas is present at the location of the NOx sensor 18. The signal form SV is hereby evaluated using different criteria which are defined in such a way that the reference time t0 can be reliably detected under standard operating conditions during a reasonable time window. The decrease of the signal form SV after the internal combustion engine 10 has been switched over (region 32) into the lean mode M should advantageously be located in the time window for performing the analysis, so that the minimum can be reliably determined. For example, a slope of the signal form is determined during signal analysis at each measurement point and compared with a previous slope. For the exemplary illustrated signal form SV, a strongly negative slope is initially detected in the region 32, the magnitude of which depends on the actual operating point of the internal combustion engine 10. This slope becomes increasingly larger (more positive) and becomes zero at the minimum min of the signal form SV, before turning positive. According to the invention, the transition time from a negative slope to a slope of approximately zero is a sufficient criterion for determining the reference time t0. Immediately after the reference time t0 has been determined, it is used as a start time for control processes of the NOx storage catalyst 16, for example for starting the integration of the sensor signal OUT. The analysis of the signal form SV is also terminated at this point. Different operating conditions of the internal combustion engine 10 can determine if a further evaluation of the sensor signal OUT is required for controlling the NOx storage catalyst 16.

Since not every NOx sensor 18 has the signal form SV illustrated in FIG. 2, but since, on the other hand, a reference time t0 should be reliably detected after each regeneration R of a NOx storage catalyst 16, additional criteria for determining a reference time t0 are defined which can take into account differing signal forms SV. For example, a reference time t0 could be considered as having been successfully determined if the signal form SV stays for a predetermined minimum time interval continuously below a predetermined threshold value SW before an analysis of the signal form begins.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7114329 *Jul 14, 2004Oct 3, 2006Siemens AktiengesellschaftMethod for checking an exhaust gas cleaning plant
US8006480 *Aug 30, 2011Eaton CorporationPhysical based LNT regeneration strategy
US8020374 *Aug 1, 2006Sep 20, 2011Robert Bosch GmbhMethod for operating an internal combustion engine and device for implementing the method
US8230674 *Dec 17, 2005Jul 31, 2012Umicore Ag & Co. KgMethod for monitoring the nitrogen oxide storage capacity of a nitrogen oxide storage catalyst used in the form of a primary catalytic converter
US20050022508 *Jul 14, 2004Feb 3, 2005Siemens AktiengesellschaftMethod for checking an exhaust gas cleaning plant
US20050282285 *Jun 21, 2004Dec 22, 2005Eaton CorporationStrategy for controlling NOx emissions and ammonia slip in an SCR system using a nonselective NOx/NH3
US20090025367 *Jul 25, 2007Jan 29, 2009Eaton CorporationPhysical based LNT regeneration strategy
US20090199542 *Aug 1, 2006Aug 13, 2009Robert Bosch GmbhMethod for operating an internal combustion engine and device for implementing the method
US20090229249 *Dec 17, 2005Sep 17, 2009Stephan BremmMethod for monitoring the nitrogen oxide storage capacity of a nitrogen oxide storage catalyst used in the form of a primary catalytic converter
Classifications
U.S. Classification60/285, 60/274, 60/276, 60/297, 60/295
International ClassificationF01N3/28, B01D53/94, F02D41/14, F01N3/08, F02D45/00, F02D41/02, F01N3/20
Cooperative ClassificationF02D41/1463, F02D41/146, F01N3/0842, F02D41/0275, B01D53/9495
European ClassificationF01N3/08B6D, F02D41/14D3L4, F02D41/02C4D1, B01D53/94Y, F02D41/14D3L
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 25, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: VOLKSWAGEN AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HAHN, HERMANN;HINZE, SOREN;REEL/FRAME:013487/0205
Effective date: 20020723
Aug 20, 2007FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Sep 13, 2011FPAYFee payment
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Sep 15, 2015FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 12